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Son of Gaza hostage on emotional talk over with to father’s native land Poland

Yuval Dancyg could not hold back his tears.

On Sunday, the Israeli flew to Poland, the homeland of his father Alex, taken hostage by Hamas militants during the October 7 attack on Israel.

For Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yuval joined an Israeli delegation that will take part in an annual march to commemorate the victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, located in the southern city of Oswiecim.

His father, of whom he has had no news for months, has dedicated his life to passing on the memory of the Holocaust. He is an educator who has trained guides accompanying visitors to the camp.

“I dream of coming back here with my father, having him explain every spot to me,” Yuval said while walking along the streets of the nearby city of Krakow.

Born in Poland, Alex Dancyg, 75, moved to Israel in 1957. Last year, he was captured by Hamas militants from his home in the Nir Oz kibbutz, near the border with Gaza.

Israel responded to the October 7 attack with a retaliatory offensive.

Some of those hostages released during the truce in late November also joined the Israeli delegation to the March of the Living, which will be held on Monday.

– ‘Alex taught us all’ –

Every year, thousands of Jews and non-Jews from around the world take part in the event at the site of the former death camp, which was built by Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland.

One million European Jews died at the camp between 1940 and 1945 along with around 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers.

The camp was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945.

Yuval is brought to tears when the Israeli delegation’s guides mention his father while the group tours the streets of the former Jewish ghetto of Krakow.

Wearing a T-shirt with an image of Alex, one guide from Israel reveals that Yuval’s father had trained him in Israel.

“He was my teacher and taught me how to lead groups in Poland,” Zohar Vlosky, 56, said, after giving Yuval a hug.

Fellow guide Adi Dadon clutched a book written by Alex in Hebrew about Krakow. The 40-year-old said: “Alex taught us all.”

“I’m part of the generations of guides who lead groups not only with the help of his books but also with an awareness of the complexity of his ties to Poland, where he was born, and Israel, his country,” Dadon said.

– ‘I can only hope’ –

On the occasion of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed from Sunday evening to Monday, Dadon points out that there are fundamental differences between the Holocaust and the October 7 attack.

But he says he understands that the members of the Israeli delegation could in some ways feel similar things to those who survived the Holocaust.

Yuval rejects the comparison. “Each of the events has its own particularity,” he says.

Yuval is wearing a yellow ribbon, the symbol of solidarity with the hostages taken by Hamas, as well as a “Bring Them Home Now” dog tag.

The war in Gaza broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

The militants also took some 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 128 remain in Gaza. The army says 35 of them are dead.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,683 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

At Nir Oz, around 75 people were taken hostage on October 7, including Alex.

“It has been 212 days since he was taken and for 150 days we have had no news of him,” said Yuval.

“I can only hope that he’s doing okay.”


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